Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in US. The canyon has a very long history that goes back before history. Native Americas had long ago traveled in these hills, climbed into the caves and probably every other nook and cranny of this entire canyon. With respect, we now also travel in these hills.
The area around Hells Canyon Dam is covered with limestone walls of all sizes and shapes. Modern rock climbing in a place like Hells Canyon takes it to the top of any scale. A small group of climbers from Eastern Oregon and Idaho and did a lot of early routes just off the Allison Creek Trail. (Now, you could make 4 weekend trips in a row and not hike more than 15 minutes up this trail).
There are over 400 routes, so if you see a wall that looks good, take a hike. Climbs are from 5.7 to 5.13+ and are 40 feet to 300 feet long. Short jug halls, roofs of caves, monster clip-ups. The camping is great and free. Being only 90 minutes from the Interstate (I-84) makes this place one of the gems of Idaho!
Eckels Creek has a voluntary climbing closure. The USFS has asked not to climb in that drainage or on that formation at all. (Golden Eagles)
Directions: From the east on I-84 at Fruitland, take U.S. route 95 north to Cambridge, Idaho, then left on SR 71 to Oxbow, OR. From the west, get off I-84 at exit 302 SR 86 to the town of Oxbow, Oregon.
Cross over the river to the Idaho side, then 15 miles to Big Bar. Camping is on the left; Allison Creek is on the right.
There is not even a rudimentary guide,(maybe a little one is out there) but the routes are being tracked. We love the place so much and think that a guide might just be a waste of ink and paper. The place is Amazing!
Actually, I have a rudimentary guide to Hell's Canyon, but it is REALLY rudimentary. Hand drawn and hard to follow. The best thing to do is just go and hope you meet someone who actually knows the place. A guidebook would ruin this place. Just go and climb and enjoy the free camping while it lasts. Not knowing the ratings actually makes it exciting. Best of luck.
Best time of the year for me... Spring, Late Winter. The grass is short and green, sunny faces feel good, trails are easy to hike... There is water seeps all over though, but you can find nice sunny dry faces regardless.
I think last time I went in the summer, I sat in the river with my chair and drank pop all day :) It's hot... but there are spots.
I have heard that this area has been under development for some time (this is from a friend of the person who is developing the area). I think the assumption is a guide will follow when development is complete.
The same person told me the routes are of a higher grade mostly 5.11 and above.
I'm not sure where in Hells Canyon the area is being developed, however.
Thanks for all the hard work to all the developers. I am thinking of visiting this area the last week in May. Is the weather there hit or miss this time of year? Guide book information....is it available. I will purchase it.....how far is the camping from the climbing? Do you camp on the rim or in the canyon?